Transferring into a New Nursing Specialty

The best advice, according to American Nurse Today is to “know yourself and what you want,” when considering a transition to a new specialty. The profession is changing rapidly, so a shift to a new specialty could encompass going into a completely different subset of the profession like going into research. Or, it could be as simple as switching healthcare organizations and caring for a new patient population. Either way, here’s how you might make the transition easier and more successful.

Do These Things First When Considering a Career Shift

American Nurse Today recommends some self-reflection before undergoing a career shift. Understanding your needs and the needs of your family are a paramount foundation when considering any job switch. Understanding what makes you happy and the financial goals of your loved ones is a smart exercise that will help guide your decision-making. Beyond financial goals, what work environment do you thrive in? Do you prefer things on an even keel or perhaps yearn for new challenges in your job? Other questions they recommend asking yourself include:

  • Do you prefer more patient contact – or less?
  • Do you prefer a hospital setting?
  • Do you prefer an interdisciplinary team or working alone?
  • Would you consider traveling?
  • Are you considering relocating?
  • Why do you think a specialty change will suit you?

Having the answers to these and other questions will set you up for the next phase in the process; research.

Researching Your Next Specialty

It’s obvious that doing your research is important if you’re considering a specialty switch. Some specialties will be an easier transition; for example, if you’ve been an ER nurse you will use many of the same skills if you’re transitioning into a flight nurse role. Give some thought, though, to the work environment the role may bring you into. Did you know pharmaceutical companies now hire nurses to work with patients and providers? Other organizations handle remote patient monitoring or home health. The point is that healthcare settings have evolved from the medical practice or hospital, so do some Google research to find out what’s available to you now.

Look closely at the training that may be required for the role, in addition to the work settings that may be available. Will you need additional certifications? Try a search of job boards to determine what kinds of previous experiences employers are looking for. Too, are their physical requirements for the specialty area that you should be aware of? Even give some thought to what kinds of patients you’ll be dealing with. For example, transitioning into hospice nursing is a bad idea if you are uncomfortable with critical illness and death.

Another resource may be LinkedIn. Do you know anyone working in the specialty from your social network? Sometimes talking directly to a person in the field is the best way to determine if the transition is a good one for you. Finally, consider a conversation with the team at MAS Medical. We’re standing by to provide you with information on the specialty area you’re considering.

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